The Story of Bluestone

By Kathryn Slade

BLUESTONE IS THE DREAM OF A DAIRY FARMER WHO WANTED TO REINVENT TOURISM IN PEMBROKESHIRE, FROM A SUMMER DESTINATION TO AN ALL YEAR ROUND ADVENTURE PARADISE.

HIS DREAM WAS TO CREATE A EUROPEAN FIRST IN TERMS OF A RESORT BASED ON SUSTAINABILITY AND QUALITY. WITH THE BEAUTIFUL BACK DROP OF PEMBROKESHIRE, ROLLING HILLS, FRESH AIR AND STARRY SKIES.

Lake

We’re celebrating our 10th Birthday on July 18th, so thought we’d take a trip down memory lane with our founder and CEO William McNamara to find out how the business has flourished.

Back in the 1980s I was a farmer. I milked cows and grew Pembrokeshire New Potatoes, it was a difficult business and milk quotas meant that we needed to diversify to survive. 

So in 1996 I wrote my first paper outlining a plan to create a resort that would bring people to our wonderful county and at the turn of the millennium I focused on making Bluestone a reality. 

Sign

We would train and develop our staff, pay them above average wage and give them a career so they would not have to leave and drain the county of its youthful population. We would buy locally from suppliers and create a network of quality trades people who in turn would employ more people.

We wanted to build a resort that had an outward looking ethos with Bluestone as its base and Pembrokeshire as its playground. Luxury self-catering lodges, an undercover water park with flumes, beach and wave pool, an adventure centre focusing on children’s play, outdoor education in acres of managed woodland, restaurants and shops and a premium spa. 

It took 12 years from that first paper in 1996 to the day that it opened - often a frustrating and certainly hard journey with a lot of challenges. Years spent going back and forth during the planning process delayed the process. In some ways we understood the views of those opposing us - we wanted to protect this beautiful countryside as much as anyone else in Pembrokeshire. But there are also people who live and need to work in our National Park - not to mention the many thousands who want to visit it. It was a difficult balance, but one I feel we’ve finally mastered. 

Lodge

I have happy memories of the first people bringing their suitcases to stay at Bluestone - but three months later we were troubled by the worldwide economic recession like everyone else. We faced another 5 or 6 years of difficult times but now we are in a great place. 

This July we will celebrate our 10th birthday and have lots of exciting plans to add more sustainable projects - you can read about SkyDome in this edition of Village Voice, which we plan to open next summer. 

It’s been a challenging but wonderful 10 years. My genuine thanks for being part of it. Here’s to many more years of Bluestone, we hope to see you again soon!

Categories:History, Infographic, Staff

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